Alright, this is awkward. But then, it usually is around this year. We have not Christmas-ed yet, but the RCL is racing ahead to the Sunday AFTER Christmas and pulling us along like a reindeer sleigh that still has gifts in it!
Usually the RCL gives us (or at least me!) a little time to breath and recover from the fa-la-la-la-ing before I have to consider the gentle glide into post-Christmas and Epiphany. Not this year though. So I had to think, what should be done? How can I keep us in the moment of Christmas coming and yet honor the movement that the Revised Common Lectionary asks of us. My solution – to literally keep one foot in each place.
The RCL moves on to consider young Samuel. Hannah has by this point in the story dedicated Samuel to God and supports him from afar, while Eli supports him in the temple.
“Samuel was ministering before the LORD, a boy wearing a linen ephod. His mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year, when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, “May the LORD repay you with children by this woman for the gift that she made to the LORD”; and then they would return to their home. . . . Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the LORD and with the people.” (1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26)
Does it occur to you, beloved reader, as it occurs to me that both Hannah and Mary ended up dedicating their sons to the Lord God? Take a moment, beloved reader, as I am thinking about the similarities. And the important differences. Samuel was the one who lead the people of God, the ancient called and chosen people, and worked to make them aware of what Yahweh expected of them. He first gave them Saul who ended up being a poor choice; and then David who was a good choice, as earthly kings go. And then David was the family line who brought us Jesus through his earthly father Joseph. As for Jesus – well, he did what He did.
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them light has shined. You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire. For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.” (Isaiah 9:2-7)
We knew this time would come, beloved reader. We entered into Advent knowing it would lead to Christmas – just not quite yet. And we enter into Christmas at the proper time knowing that when Christmastide comes to an end we will be in the New Year and will have new things to consider, and old things that are carried into the new year. Let us, beloved reader, carry with us all the gifts and blessings that have been given to us while remembering those who sacrificed themselves on our behalf. Shalom & Selah!